Every year before EDUCAUSE, Nicole Nesrsta picks colleges’ brains to figure out what trends are hot – and not – in higher education.
“I try to think what’s really been top of mind, and [focus] a lot of the conversations that I’ve had with different schools,” says Nesrsta, Lead Vertical Marketing Manager for Citrix. “I kind of have a feeling of what’s going to be hot at EDUCAUSE, and I make predictions every year.”
This year, she predicts four topics will be at the top of everyone’s discussion list:
1) Utilizing analytics & data
I’m hearing schools talk a lot about using analytics to make better decisions for their students and staff. I think for the longest time, data has just been a buzz word and no one really knew what it was about. But, now schools are starting to understand how they can make better decisions using the data that they have.
Schools have so much data – they have admissions data, stats of other students, what classes they took and if they dropped out or advanced, etc. They can really harness that data and find solutions to look at that data in different ways. They can make decisions that improve retention and graduation rates, and things like that. They can analyze different courses and different professors, which combination or which major are the most successful and try to repeat those things, and retire things that aren’t working well.
2) Protecting student data
Securing students’ data and protecting their privacy is certainly becoming a hot topic issues for many different reasons. From a marketing sense, there are many different companies holding student data very viable so they can market to them. Students have a lot of disposable income and a lot of companies want to take advantage of that.
But, I also hear from a lot of security officers at schools that are worried about the information that they have; they have social security numbers and financial data. While you may not think that hackers will be particularly interested in students, eventually, they’re going to graduate from that awesome college and have a good job and become successful and comfortable. That’s when hackers want that student data. They want it to sell their credit information, etc.
3) Personalizing the learning experience
I’ve been seeing this happening for a long time, but it’s really big this year: trying to provide personalized learning experiences for students. It’s hard to do. You have all different types of learners, all different age groups. How do you find solutions to give them exactly what they need at the time that they need it?